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Friday, September 28, 2001

M-Cup - Worden accepts defeat to Penang


KOTA KINABALU: Coach Ken Worden accepted the Rhinos’ 0-5 defeat to Penang and said Sabah needs a mighty effort in order to make the cut into the quarterfinals of the prestigious Malaysia Cup competition.

"Yes, I think we can beat them (Penang) here, although we have been beaten badly. It will take a mighty effort and I don’t know if the players have it in them," Worden told reporters upon the team’s arrival from Penang here yesterday.

Commenting on the Rhinos’ biggest defeat under his care, the Aussie explained: "Firstly, we never had any time to prepare and practice (for the match). We had a game on Saturday and we rested on Sunday. We travelled to Penang on Monday and played on Tuesday."

"Secondly, we had a suspension and injuries and we didn’t have any adequate replacements. I think those were the two main things.

"We played with the right strategy. I discussed (prior to the game) the strategy with some of the senior players to get some feedback. We played with the right strategy, but again, one mistake and once they scored, once again we had to look for goals.

"But it took them 35 minutes to score the first goal. After that, we were trying to get the goal to even the game and we left gaps (at the back) without having adequate players to fill this position.

"For me, this is the only time this year that I haven’t been able to really hold it together. I told the players before the game that this is going to be the most difficult game against this team and it really turned out to be just that. I was very, very careful on what I said to the players on what we had to do," Worden said.

Added Worden: "In my 11 years as a coach in Malaysia, this is the best team or best squad that I’ve played against. There is a vast difference in the quality of players, speed of players and ethnic of players between the two sides (Penang and Sabah). This shows how far we are left behind."

He said that even if he has two foreign players playing for Sabah, it would still be difficult to beat Penang.

"They were just classes above us, based on that game and on that ground," Worden admitted.

But despite that, Worden is not throwing in the towel just yet and said: "Before the flight, I spoke to some senior players about trying to be positive. We cannot win the game by holding this team. We cannot qualify to the next round unless we beat this team (Penang).

"But can we beat them? I think it is very possible, although I’ve said that they are the best team I’ve seen. The circumstances are there on our ground which is not the best, in the afternoon sun, which is quite hot and our ground is small. Hopefully our players are going to be in the right frame of mind – to avenge this beating – then we can get through. But it will not be easy. It will be the most difficult challenge.

"I’ve built two champion teams – Selangor in the Malaysia Cup – from nothing. The quality of this team … I would say is above either one of those two teams I built in Selangor.

"So, the future is that Sabah have got to get cracking. We are getting left behind – in terms of development and everything. We are a long way behind when I look at the stadium, the team preparations, and the quality of the players and everything," Worden stressed.

With the defeat the Rhinos remain in third spot in the four-team standings with three points after three matches.

For Sabah to confirm their quarterfinals berth, they need to win all their remaining matches.

Sabah will take on Penang on October 2.

Source: New Sabah Times

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